Memorandum by the Secretary of State to the President 1



  • Your question as to mechanism for informing other American Governments and obtaining advance approval of action we might take in case Honduras should call on us for aid under the Rio Treaty against armed intervention by Guatemala.

Under Article 3 of the Rio Treaty, the signatories are obligated to give immediate assistance to any State directly subjected to an armed attack. Thus, if such an attack occurs, and the attacked State requests assistance, the signatory states have in principle approved action in advance. In such a case, the Organ of Consultation meets “without delay” to examine the measures taken and determine whether others should be agreed upon.

In the absence of invocation of the Rio Treaty, there is no formal mechanism for consultation under it. However, informal exchange of information with the Parties to the Treaty is not only possible but generally desirable.

Advance information to other Parties to the Treaty of an intention on our part to provide military assistance in the event of an armed attack would create a precedent which might well create subsequent difficulties. Request for advance commitment for such assistance has, for example, long been an aspiration of the Uruguayan Government. However, we are informing other Parties to the Treaty of the seriousness with which we view the developments in Honduras and of the fact that we are following them closely in the light of inter-American treaty commitments, and in close consultation with the Honduran Government.

John Foster Dulles
  1. Drafted by Deputy Director of the Office of Regional American Affairs Jamison; cleared with the Assistant Legal Adviser for Inter-Amcrican Affairs Marjorie M. Whiteman.